Friday 24 August 2012

Nigeria: In search of the flight to Eldorado

By Eromo Egbejule

In line with the Federal Government’s plan to render better services to Nigerians, the Ministry of Aviation, under Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah recently embarked on a drive to get investors to pool in resources and transform the often-lampooned Nigerian aviation industry.
Over the last couple of weeks, the minister has put together the Aviation Ministry Investment roadshow to help enlighten potential investors, from the US to Canada and China.
The move, was to woo foreign investment, and was aimed at addressing the infrastructure gap in Nigeria’s aviation sector and that of the host countries.
Only last week, the Boeing Corporation, the world’s number one manufacturer of aircrafts agreed to collaborate and partner with the ministry in order to reposition the sector as the reference point on all aviation matters in Africa.
Its equally heart-warming news, that the US Citibank, the Federal Airport Administration (FAA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have endorsed the Ministry of Aviation’s proposed Aerotroplolis project, even as they have all vowed to be fully involved in the various phases of its implementation.
The Aerotropolis is a project that involves placing airports in the centre with cities growing around them, connecting workers, goods and services.
Like the Biblical story of the wisemen from the East bearing gifts for a child, Chinese investors may just be the required personnel needed to rev up the engine of progress desperately needed in that ailing sector.
The Chinese will execute any projects they are involved in, using the contractor-financed model and not the Public Private Partnership business model or concessioning, in order to save time among other benefits.
The China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd (CSCEC) that built and donated the African Union (AU) building in Ethiopia, has for instance pledged to be a major investor in the construction of Areotropolis within major airports in Nigeria.
Also, the popular Huawei Technologies, together with it’s IT solutions partner, STA, presented a joint proposal to the minister’s delegation at the former’s headquarters in Shenzhen on IT infrastructure for new airport terminals.
The resilient Oduah also met with certain design firms, to fashion out strategies to get them involved in the redesign of certain systems at Nigerian airports.
It is only natural to seek aid when a burden is too heavy to carry alone and it is on the basis of this and her laudable ambitions, that Oduah deserves credit. No other minister has probably had this kind of drive in a long time and it is expected that her colleagues in the federal cabinet will emulate her roadshow initiative and spark off the needed revolution in the country.
In time, as Nigeria acknowledges that whatever is worth doing, is worth doing extremely well, the fact remains that national development will be sped up with each passing day; it goes without saying that Nigeria will become an economic nerve-centre of Africa.


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